April is now Water Conservation Month in Alachua County.
“Alachua County is seen as a leader in the field of water conservation,” said Stacie Greco, Water Conservation Coordinator at Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. “We have a pretty protective irrigation design code. We have a robust education campaign. And, (we’re) really trying to lead the way across the state for water conservation, so not just in April, but year-round.”
The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners approved a proclamation at a meeting Tuesday that would recognize water conservation is vital for maintaining the bodies of water in the county.
The area is pretty vulnerable to the consequences of not using water sustainably, said Deirdre Irwin, Water Conservation Coordinator for the St. Johns River Water Management District.
April is the chosen month because it is one of the driest periods of the year for Florida, Irwin said.
Andrea Ditto, Water Conservation Coordinator for Gainesville Regional Utilities, said the Alachua County Board vision aligns with the one of the City of Gainesville, which also recognized April as Water Conservation Month.
In the proclamation, the county states it enforces irrigation restrictions and implements the Irrigation Efficiency Design Code to conserve water resources and maintain the health of local water bodies. The text also encourages residents to maintain leak-free homes and participate in water reduction efforts.
According to a publication by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), in Florida “the average home would use at least 991 gallons of water each time they watered their yard.”
This equates to around an eight-hour shower with a water-efficient showerhead.
Nick Taylor, an IFAS state-level expert who co-authored the text, explained that this estimate is conservative because it’s based on the assumption that the irrigation system works perfectly, without any waste.
Messages by the government or scientists are not the best methods to motivate people to conserve water, said Irwin citing research from Laura Warner, associate professor of Extension Education in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication.
“Peer pressure and what your friends are doing,” Irwin said. “If they’re starting to turn off the water, then people start. So it goes back to, ‘what are my neighbors doing?'”
More than 13 million people in Florida are affected by drought, according to the Drought Monitor.